October 22, 2021

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Roger Federer finally gets “RF” logo back

Uniqlo

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It took awhile. But Roger Federer finally has his eponymous “RF” logo back.

The tennis legend, who plans to return to action next month in Australia for the first time in a year, has not been able to use the logo since he signed on with new clothing sponsor Uniqlo more than two years ago.

Tuesday, the 39-year-old returned to social media after having made himself rather scarce in the last six months, to announce that Uniqlo caps with the logo would be available starting next week.

It’s interesting that there is no Uniqlo logo visible on the front of the cap – only at the bottom, near the back, in a spot that won’t get much camera time.

https://twitter.com/rogerfederer/status/1333772910868230147

Official press release quote:

“After a long wait and extensive fine tuning, UNIQLO and I are extremely excited to announce the return of the RF hat in 8 fresh colors starting December 8, 2020.

This hat has meant so much to me and to my fans over the years. It has given us a way to visibly connect, and I have appreciated the opportunity to thrive off this supportive energy.”

Nike alliance didn’t end too well

Back in 2018, it seemed hard to fathom Federer without the swoosh when a few tidbits leaked out about how fruitless the negotiations were between Nike and Federer’s management, Team 8.

They had an idea of what his value was, and wanted a big-money, long-term renewal even if, at Federer’s age, he wasn’t going to play more than a few years.

The problem was that, in a nutshell, Nike doesn’t sell that much tennis merch. We’re told the company probably wasn’t even generating as much revenue on Federer-logoed merchandise as it was paying the man himself to wear it.

Uniqlo
Federer was still wearing Nike RF gear at Wimbledon in 2018 before his first-round Uniqlo “reveal”.

It wasn’t as though he was going to get a Michael Jordan-type lifetime deal, as Jordan Nike sneaks are still a huge seller. So Federer wasn’t going to get anything close to the reported 10-year, $300 million he is getting from Uniqlo.

The issues, early on, were that while they revealed the deal at Wimbledon 2018, Uniqlo’s “Federer duds” were nowhere near being ready for sale to the public.

The deal itself came together in rather short order although the negotiations likely were ongoing simultaneously with the Nike talks. But the lead time on manufacturing can be as much as 18 months.

Uniqlo
The RF logo was registered both by Nike and a Federer company back in 2008.

The “RF” didn’t go to Uniqlo

Here’s what Federer said about leaving the logo behind with Nike, back in 2018.

It’s also something that was very important for me, for the fans really. Look, it’s the process. But the good news is that it will come with me at one point. They are my initials. They are mine. The good thing is it’s not theirs forever. In a short period of time, it will come to me.”

“A short period of time” turned out to be nearly 2 1/2 years.

As lucky fans watched Federer practice with Philpp Petzschner the morning before his first-round match at Wimbledon in 2018.– where he would walk out in Uniqlo for the first time – the RF hats were out in force. That’s been true throughout the “RF-less” period since then. (Stephanie Myles-Opencourt.ca/Wordpress)

The logo itself was fairly useless to Nike, without the man himself.

But it became a bit of a “Oh yeah? Take this” kind of thing. From what we hear, Nike head honcho Phil Knight may have stepped in and facilitated the transfer. But it still took quite a bit of time.

Perhaps, had Federer been playing in 2020, it might have come sooner.

Uniqlo Fed gear fairly pedestrian

The Federer Uniqlo kits have been fairly boring. But you wonder how they even sell any..

You would think is the point of the exercise. Athough there’s no way they could sell enough of it to monetize what they are reportedly paying him.

The thing about Uniqlo is that every Uniqlo store we’ve ever been into, there was no sign of ANYTHING tennis, let along any Federer-themed kits.

The other issue Federer had, we’re told – at least at the beginning – is that they weren’t that great at making tennis stuff.

Uniqlo did get some Federer shirts made up for the 2019 US Open (these fellow told Open Court they got them at the flagship store in Manhattan) (Stephanie Myles/opencourt.ca)

The original clothing was pretty heavy. It wasn’t made of the light, moisture-wicking material that can be extremely helpful on a heavy, humid day.

Remember that match against John Millman at the US Open where Federer not only lost, he reportedly barely made it to a small room just off the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium after the match? When have you ever seen his clothes so completely drenched.

We’re told Federer imported someone from Nike to come to Uniqlo and offer some input. But it was a move that apparently met with some resistance there.

The “Uniqlo way” isn’t not the “Nike way”.

Hopefully they have long resolved that.

How to find it? Search – hard

The announcement that the “RF” is back is getting different treatment, depending on what country you might want to shop in.

In the EU, the announcement appears on the home page, although it’s the basic press release, with no way to see price or pre-order.

In Canada (and in Australia), they haven’t heard of Federer.

Uniqlo
Canada has not heard of Uniqlo tennis – or Federer.

On the U.S. site, the only reference to Federer leads to a page with the company’s athletic ambassadors. But only Kei Nishikori’s old kit (on liquidation) is available for order.

At the Japanese site, you finally get somewhere.

It appears it will retail for the equivalent of about $20US, plus tax. Although you can’t pre-order it.